Cook, Will officials eyeing spring thaw warily
BY TINA AKOURIS firstname.lastname@example.org February 14, 2014 6:26PM
Updated: February 16, 2014 2:07AM
Will County has not been placed under a flood watch or warning by the National Weather Service, but Harold Damron, the county’s emergency management director, intends to keep close watch on the situation as warmer temperatures next week begin to melt the snow.
Damron said his agency is concerned about how rapidly the snow melts and a flood-prone area along the Kankakee River near Wilmington where ice builds up on the river every year.
“As the ice breaks up, it piles up in certain areas and creates jams and brings the potential for flooding,” he said. “This winter, being like it is with the snow and cold, we have ice that is 18 inches thick.”
Damron has scheduled a Feb. 22 conference call with the National Weather Service and Wilmington officials to assess the likelihood of flooding.
“If (the thaw) is gradual and doesn’t include a lot of precipitation, it can work itself out,” he said. “But if we warm up rapidly enough, with rain, then we can be compounding things.”
The key is a gradual warmup with days in the 30s and 40s, but once the daily high reaches the upper 40s or higher, or if there is heavy rain, more rapid melting can cause flooding, Damron said.
John McCabe, deputy director of resource management for the Cook County Forest Preserve District, said his staff will monitor the thaw forecast for this coming week, especially areas such as Salt Creek and the Des Plaines River in the Riverside-Brookfield area, parts of Des Plaines and some areas around the North Branch of the Chicago River.
McCabe said there are no specific areas of concern for now in the south or southwest suburbs.